Best friend wanted: Average pet owner-to-be spends nearly 5 months looking for ‘the one’

NEW YORK — It takes the average American four months and 20 days of searching to find “the one” — that is, their four-legged soulmate.

That’s according to a new survey of 2,000 American cat and dog owners, which delves into the process of finding the right addition to the family once they decide to get a new furry friend. Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy task. Half of respondents said they visited three or more shelters while looking for a pet. During their search, the average respondent added they spent six hours and 24 minutes per week scrolling through pet adoption websites.

In the end though, it’s worth it to find “the one,” and six in 10 pet owners said it was “love at first sight” when they found their pet. Another 63 percent call their pet their soulmate.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Royal Canin for National Pet Foster Care Month in May, researchers also looked at fostering cats and dogs, and the bond that fostering can help create.

‘Foster fails’ lead to happy families

Sixty-eight percent of those who have fostered an animal admit they’ve “foster failed,” wherein they ended up adopting one of their foster pets. Of those, 87 percent said they knew they wanted to adopt their foster pet “immediately” after meeting them. Nearly three in four (73%) said fostering first helped them create an even stronger bond with their soon-to-be companion.

However, not everyone is fostering with the hope of adopting. Interestingly enough, 52 percent said they want to ensure animals have a good, temporary home before meeting the right family.

Twenty-three percent said they fostered because they were looking to adopt a pet, while 20 percent said it was a mix of both. Regardless, four in five foster pet parents said they love giving foster pets a place to stay until they can find their forever home.

“Fostering is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a pet until they go to their forever home. Not only are you saving a life, but you’re also freeing up space at a shelter for another animal in need,” says Catherine Lenox, veterinarian with Royal Canin, in a statement. “First-time foster parents will face many challenges such as training their rescue on how to live in a home, but watching their rescue become a pet is truly rewarding.”

It takes serious work to be a foster pet parent

When it comes to being a foster pet parent, most caution that it takes a lot of planning and organization before bringing a furry friend home. Before fostering for the first time, the top thing people wish they knew more about was what they needed to have, versus what the shelter or organization would provide (53%).

In addition to that, respondents wish they had more information about how to get their home ready ahead of time (50%) and wish they knew how hard it could be to say goodbye (45%). These are lessons many Americans have learned recently as well. The poll finds 29 percent of those who fostered did so for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Whether you’re a first-time foster parent or ready to foster again, it’s important to have your home ready for a new rescue, learn the basic training techniques and be prepared for the emotional toll it can take on sending your rescue to their forever home,” Lenox adds. “Foster parents are not alone in this journey as there are plenty of resources and networks to support them.”

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